Language development: Evolutionary theories

Mark Atkinson*, Kenny Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Accounts of language development can be broadly divided into two opposing camps: nativist theories and statistical learning accounts. We review the claims made by each about the role of the socially acquired linguistic data in language acquisition and consider the implications of each account on the likely evolutionary history of the language-learning capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
Publication statusPublished - 26 Mar 2015


  • Communication
  • Cultural evolution
  • Cultural transmission
  • Evolutionary theory
  • Language acquisition
  • Language development
  • Language evolution
  • Linguistic nativism
  • Natural selection
  • Social learning
  • Statistical learning
  • Universal Grammar


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